During the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) General Assembly held in Paris on February 20-24, FATF members unanimously decided to remove Morocco from the Grey List, indicating Morocco is no longer under increased monitoring for potential money laundering, proliferation financing, or terrorist financing. The FATF's decision follows the positive outcome of the FATF on site visit in Morocco on January 16-18, 2023. Morocco has taken a series of measures to enhance its legal framework and institutional capabilities in the fight against financial crime, addressing technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of their action plan on strategic deficiencies identified by FATF in 2021. Pursuant to the High Royal Directives, Morocco has focused on legislative, organizational, awareness and control measures, implemented by a range of national authorities and institutions. The steps were taken under the coordination of the National Financial Intelligence Authority, in partnership with both the public and private sector.

Part of Morocco’s improvement plan included strengthening its international cooperation mechanisms, AML/CFT supervision and institutional capacity to conduct investigations and confiscate the proceeds of crime. Both domestically through increased organizational awareness and legislative reform, and regionally through agreed Memorandums of Understanding (“MoUs”), Morocco has received recognition for its proactive approach.

The delisting of Morocco is a promising feat for the MENA region, where many states have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to tackling financial crime, seeking to cultivate an investor friendly environment in pursuit of international cooperation and economic growth. Morocco’s efforts and progress have not gone unnoticed, as the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) has also praised their performance and commitment to comprehensive structural reform.

In other regional developments from the Plenary, the FATF called on Qatar to make improvements in its own efforts to combat illicit financial flows, as well as increasing transparency in ultimate ownership of companies and enhancing measures to prevent the financing of weapons of mass destruction. Although Qatar was also praised for its successes, there remains clear areas for improvement.

Morocco’s victory is an impressive success story for other regional countries looking to reverse their inclusion of the Grey List, and is a testament to the utility of FATF’s assessment methodology. It also underlines the tacit acknowledgment replicated by other countries subject to increased monitoring; that effective combating of financial crimes is now a non-negotiable element in economic development and is greatly facilitated by the assistance of international organizations orientated towards the same goal.